A search for regulatory analogs to carbon sequestration

Carbon capture and sequestration will require the management and storage of carbon dioxide either in geological reservoirs or in the ocean over many centuries. While the possibility of exposure leading to damages to public health, workers or the environment may be small, it seems inevitable that if there is to be widespread adoption of sequestration, then a regulatory system will need to evolve to manage the reservoirs. To better understand the drivers of a future regulatory system, the historical evolution of comparable regulatory regimes provides a useful guide. Other long-term storage problems that have at least some of the characteristics of carbon storage are evaluated according to the nature of risk, the credibility of the solutions, the regulatory environment and the potential to either borrow from or influence other policy problems across geographic or issue boundaries. While none are exact analogs, as a whole, the set offers variation in key variables critical for determining the success of carbon sequestration as a viable climate policy option.